We did some research at home about hitchhiking through massive Canada by watching some you tube movies. The two major things we learned from those were:
- If you’re not catching a ride, keep on smiling, don’t give up hope and stay nice to your fellow hitchhiker, cause he is all you’ve got.
- Don’t ever get stuck in Wawa.
With that information in the back of our minds we continued our journey from Toronto to Quetico Provincial Park (Wawa being on that route).
We left the apartment of the fantastic Aveiro’s early in the morning, starting with a two kilometer walk towards the streetcar, taking us to the west of the metropolis. We were pretty lucky catching a ride to the ramp of the highway we needed. The air was very humid and it was hot enough to burn a polar bear’s butt.
We placed ourselves in front of a car wash and put up our thumbs…for hours without any luck. A guy came to us to inform us that other hitchhikers had been stuck at the same place for a very long time, so we decided to pick up all our belongings and walk to another ramp, two kilometers further. The heat caught up with us while hiking through a pretty rich neighborhood, and we had to stop a couple of times in the shadow to rest.
I think we’ve must have looked exhausted, sweaty, sun burned…horrible, cause a labourer came up to me asking if we were hitchhiking and putting 10 dollars in my hand.
With only a ray of hope left, telling each other that we knew there would be moments like this and that we would be fine and that we loved each other very very much, Aiden pulled over his car at 4:30 in the afternoon and took us to Newmarket, just outside of Toronto.
Out of the city, the people were more inclined to help out and we got a ride only after two minutes to the north of Barrie. We didn’t make it far, covering a distance of only 80 kilometers, but we decided to call it a day and walked to a nearby camping place Jan had found on his map. (We use offline maps on Osmand, an app we are very satisfied about.)
The place looked a little ramshackle and perfect next to a beautiful lake. We went to the office and asked if we could pitch up our tent. The owner, John, and his colleague, Chuck, told us they only accepted campers. We must have looked very unfortunate and I tried convincing them, with a tired voice, that it was a very small tent. John asked where we were from, I don’t really know why, but Belgium saved our asses, cause we could stay for free and use the washroom. We were so grateful that we told him we would come and buy a beer later in a way of thanking him. But he replied that they didn’t have a license. Lemonade it was then!
Anyway, they left us to set up our tent, and we flumped onto the grass and just sat there, gathering our energy to swing into action when Chuck returned with two cold beers, because we looked like we could use them.
We went to the lake shore to enjoy our nectar and feeling tired and totally amazed by all the kindness. Karma was definitely on our side.
And then the evening even got better, cause Chuck walked towards us again, offering some leftovers from dinner. I don’t know if leftovers are always as much and as delicious in Canada, I sure do hope so! It was a fabulous meal with fresh vegetables, potatoes that melt in your mouth, not to mention the corn in butter and the huge piece of steak. Welcome to Canada, they said.
The next morning, one of the other guests, gave us a ride to the highway and we were more lucky catching rides this day, which was a little necessary, because we had to make it to Quetico Provincial Park in time, because of the permits we already payed for.
Our last ride, Karin and her dog Heidi, took us all the way to the KOA ( luxurious campsite) of Sault St Marie, where we spent the night after a dive in the refreshing pool.
I sent Jane a message that we were having a rough time, getting to our destination, and she made sure that we could spent the night with a good friend of hers in Thunder Bay, and that he would even drive us to our outfitters the day after.
Feeling extremely lucky, we left early in the morning, to be sure we would make it to Thunder Bay.
We had to wait for on hour for a ride, but when I asked the driver where he was heading and he answered ‘Winnipeg, Manitoba’ I was euphoric, because that meant that we wouldn’t get stuck in Wawa and we would make it to Josh’s (friend of Jane) place for supper!
In Rudy’s company we drove by very scenic places and we stopped now and then to make a picture.
As we arrived at Josh’s, Rudy was invited for dinner as well and we ate some delicious burgers and tasted some really nice, almost local, beers.
After Rudy gave Josh some advice about planting and taking care of potato plants, we waved him farewell.
The next day Josh spoiled us to death. First he cooked us breakfast and then he took us to a lake near his home to teach us how to canoe. On the lake we spotted our first wild life in Canada, a beautiful dear, with magnificent big ears and we saw a turtle, which appeared to be a drowning chipmunk. We decided to save him and he was so thankful that he bit Josh three times.
In the afternoon we got a sightseeing tour in the city and Josh told us about it’s history and taught us a new word, which I still remember: ‘Adirondack’. Those are the nice wooden chairs you see all over Canada. If we ever have a garden ourselves, we will make or buy some, cause they are very comfy.
Last but not least, he took us to the place where they sell the best home made ice creams in town.
Afterwards Josh drove us all the way to our outfitters near Atikokan. On the way he told us about being careful with wild life and that he hoped we would spot some animals, as I suddenly noticed a gorgeous moose on the side of the road. Josh turned his car, so Jan could see her too and we could catch her on camera.
We reached the outfitter soon after where we said goodbye to Josh. We were really happy we got to spend some time with him. With all the information he gave us about canoeing in Quetico we felt totally ready for our next adventure.